Charity cycling group in Walsall devastated by mass bicycle theft

Walsall Arboretum Community Cycling Club before the theft
Walsall Arboretum Community Cycling Club
Walsall Arboretum Community Cycling Club

Charity cycling group in Walsall devastated by mass bicycle theft

A cycling group running confidence-building rides for the local community at Walsall Arboretum has been put on hold, following the callous theft of all 11 of the group’s newly purchased bicycles.

The Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club, a group affiliated to national cycling charity Cycling UK, was started in September this year as part of the Big Bike Revival, with the support of Walsall Council who secured over £3000 in funding through Sport England to purchase bicycles. The participants, many of them elderly, have rediscovered the wonderful health and social benefits of regular cycling, in an area where bicycle ownership is very low.

Lesley Easter, Cycling UK’s Cycling Development Officer for the West Midlands, said: “We had our first meeting when the bikes were delivered on 26 September and we’ve seen continuous high participation. The group is made up mostly of bright and brilliant senior citizens, most of them ladies, including Joan, the eldest at 85 years old.

“The bicycles were brand new, and chosen specifically for new or unconfident cyclists. It is an upsetting crime, and deeply frustrating for everyone.”

Surinder has been a member of the group since its second session, after deciding to get on a bike for the very first time aged 71.

She said: “When I saw the group I knew this was something I finally wanted to learn, now that I’m retired and don’t have to devote all my time to my family. I’m quite active for my age, still out walking and jogging.

“When I found out what had happened to the bikes I was devastated. We ended up just learning about mechanics this week. I just want things to be back to normal.”

Tina Eglington, 48, used the sessions to boost her shaky confidence on two wheels and give her a new focus in life.

“I’m a full-time carer for my son who has mental disabilities, so this group has been a wonderful stress reliever during the little free time I have.

“I’ve loved it, I can’t begin to tell you how much it’s changed my life. It’s become a real little community, with no judgement as we’re all in the same boat.

“When I heard about what happened I wanted to cry. Where can I learn now?”

The theft occurred overnight between Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November, after a locked compound at the Arboretum was broken into. Anyone with any potential information about the incident should contact 101, quoting crime reference number 20WS/244838R/17

For anyone looking to donate an unwanted bike to the group, please contact the Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org

ENDS

Contact information 

For more information contact the national Cycling UK Press Office on 01483 238 315, 07786 320 713 or email publicity@cyclinguk.org

Notes to editors 
  1. Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
  2. Walsall Arboretum Community Cycle Club is a Cycling UK affiliated group offering free bike rides to adults looking to get back on two wheels or even try cycling for the very first time in a safe and social atmosphere. Further information on the group can be found here: www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/walsall-arboretum-community-cycle-club
  3. Cycling UK’s Community Cycle Clubs work with community groups and charities across England and Scotland to enable people to get around, improve their fitness and have fun on a cycle. Funding from the Department for Transport, Transport Scotland and local authorities is enabling Cycling UK to bring the joy of cycling to new audiences including young people, people on low incomes and people with long term health conditions. More information on Community Cycling Clubs can be found here: www.cyclinguk.org/community-cycle-clubs
  4. The Big Bike Revival family-friendly events take place at bike recycling centres across England and Scotland. It’s designed to help get unloved bikes back into use, teach people to learn how to look after them and rediscover how much fun cycling can be. More information can be found here: www.bigbikerevival.org.uk
  5. Joan Reynolds, the eldest member of the group, recently got back on a bike after 65 years. Read her amazing story here: https://www.cyclinguk.org/news/85-year-old-grandma-takes-cycling-after-65-years
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